Lyrical dance is a dance style that embodies various aspects of ballet, jazz, acrobatics, and modern dance. Lyrical dance is “strongly associated with clearly displayed emotional moods, fast-moving choreographic strategies, emphasis on virtuosic display, illustration of song lyrics, and, in group form, exact unison.” The style is usually danced at a faster pace than ballet but not as fast as jazz. Lyrical dance is a category typically found in dance competitions.


There is little research and documentation of the origins of lyrical dance most likely due to the limited use of this style outside of the competition dance world. There are three popular origin stories for lyrical dance that have been suggested by experts of competition dance.

The first, speculated by Jimmy Peters, is that lyrical dance evolved from the "dream ballet" in musicals such as Oklahoma and West Side Story.

The second from Chelya Clawson, states that this term can be traced back to 16th century traditional Indian dance.

The last, and the most plausible, created by Phyllis Balanga- Demoret, is that it began about 25 years ago as a result of ballet's inability to take to the competition stage. Even though there has been no official documentation, Balanga-Demoret's explanation is the most plausible because lyrical dance is only used in competition dance. Additionally, ballet is rarely seen on a competitive stage, despite it having its own category at many competitions, which further confirms Balanga-Demoret's theory. Dancer, teacher, and choreographer Suzi Taylor, who holds regular classes at Steps on Broadway in New York City, is considered by many to be an early mother of lyrical dance, having emphasized a unique brand of musicality and expressiveness which influenced many future teachers and choreographers.



The styles within lyrical dance have changed over time. In the earlier stages, a dancer would perform the lyrics of a song, displaying emotions. Today, the lyrical category still has an emphasis on displaying emotion but in a more abstract way.


The lyrical category is a place for innovation and stylized movement that is associated with contemporary dance. Lyrical dancing is performed to music with lyrics to inspire movements to express strong feelings and emotions the choreographer feels from the lyrics in the chosen song.


Because lyrical dancing focuses on the expression of strong emotion, the style concentrates more on individual approach and expressiveness than the precision of the dancer's movements.